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A coalition of 23 states challenges new federal regulations on washing machines – Florida

(The Center Square) – Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is leading a coalition of 23 state attorneys general opposing another Biden administration regulation on appliances, this time on washing machines.

They did so as the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to vote this week on two bills that would tighten Biden administration regulations on dishwashers and refrigerators, among other appliances. Republicans say the regulations will only further increase costs and make them less affordable than they already are, The Center Square reported. House Democrats have been encouraged to vote against the bills, arguing they are a political ploy.

Moody’s said a new U.S. Department of Energy regulation on washing machines is “the latest overreach into the livelihood of middle-class Americans.” The administration is now “going after laundromats in an attempt to promote its radical energy policies by implementing harmful and costly standards for washing machines.”

The coalition of Attorneys General sent a letter to DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm asking her to either abandon a new rule promulgated by the DOE or “proceed with notice-and-comment rulemaking” before promulgating it.

In March 2023, the Department of Energy proposed new energy conservation standards for residential clothes washers through a new federal rule as part of an overall energy conservation program. The Department of Energy received numerous comments in favor and opposition, and after months of impasse, the rule failed to move forward. Advocacy organizations and appliance manufacturers then agreed to a joint statement in September 2023, and the Department of Energy finalized the rule in March 2024.

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act “grants DOE the authority to regulate residential clothes washers for energy conservation,” the attorneys general explain. “That grant of authority is not unlimited. DOA must also consider the economic burden that such regulations will impose on consumers and manufacturers, and whether such burden is economically justified.”

Under the law, DOE “may only issue a direct final rule if interested parties submit a joint statement that fairly represents relative views and meets the standards,” they said. Because the joint statement “was the result of administrative pressure, it did not address issues raised by important interested parties during the comment period on the proposed rule,” they wrote to Granholm.

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers said the rule would “eliminate consumer features, reduce choice, significantly increase cost and/or negatively impact product performance.”

A study conducted with Bellomy Research found that the rule would negatively impact low-income households. More than half of American households would not be able to afford to buy a more energy-efficient washing machine, the research found, leading households to buy used washing machines or not buy them at all.

Whirlpool maintains the rule is not economically justified. Its research found a 25% increase in cost to consumers and a potential 31% loss in the industry’s net present value, which could result in the loss of more than 8,000 U.S. jobs. It also criticized the Department of Energy for failing to conduct a North American supply chain analysis.

The joint statement includes advocacy groups such as the Water Efficiency Alliance, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice and others that “do not represent the interests of everyday consumers, and DOE should not give significant weight to their contributions,” the attorneys general argue.

While states like California and Massachusetts support the rule, “many states do not,” the 23 attorneys general argue. “DOE cannot cherry-pick states with which it is politically aligned to bypass the ordinary rulemaking process.”

Calling the rule “Biden’s war on washing machines,” Louisiana Attorney General Liz Murrill said the president is “continuing his attack on Louisiana citizens. This time, his bureaucratic tyrants want to dictate how we wash and dry our clothes. I will continue to oppose these ill-conceived policies that only hurt Louisiana workers and the way they run their households.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Lasko, R-Ariz., who introduced the “Hands Off Our Appliances” Act, said she was “saddened that we had to go without such a bill.” After the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill in May, she said, “No government bureaucrat should be planning to take away Americans’ appliances in the name of a radical environmental agenda, but that’s exactly what we’ve seen under the Biden administration.”

The bill requires any new energy efficiency standards to be cost-effective and prevents the federal government from banning the use of appliances based on fuel consumption. It is unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Depending on Granholm’s response, the coalition is expected to file a lawsuit asking a federal court to stop the rule from going into effect, arguing that it is illegal.